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tv   Book Discussion on The King Years  CSPAN  January 20, 2014 10:00am-10:46am EST

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foregone conclusion that we would still be talking about this even. if they can't forget you, then they will kill you with the kinds of remember and you in a certain way. they can kill you twice. yet, they will give you a stamp, they will deify you in a way that extracts all of the meaning that made you meaningful. and this, because it's an ongoing process, then that means it's an ongoing challenge. and it's not a challenge that i feel is a foregone conclusion. i think that these are struggles that we can actually -- i don't know if you ever quite wind them, but that have traction. because they have relevance, and
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the relevance they have is not just to the past but to the present. their history lives with them, and as much as people would like to travel light, when they look around, the baggage is still there. >> yeah. to the point about the stands, most of my heroes don't appear on those stands committed put their pictures on the net but they still don't appear. and aside from that, all i have left to say is free melissa alexander. >> a man. [applause] -- a man. >> thank you. and gary will be signing books, yes? and me. thank you. >> thank you. [applause] [inaudible]
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>> for more information visit the author's website, garyyounge.com. >> now on booktv, taylor branch the author of the multivolume america indicators presents his thoughts on key moment in the civil rights movement. this is about one hour 15 minutes. >> thank you, jeffrey. and thank all of you for coming. this is a very exciting time and i hope to use the civil rights history to look forward rather than backward. because i think all of you at
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citizens on an equal share of this country devoted to the idea of equal citizenship, and that we should aspire to the model of the civil rights era in which even a journal children who were denied the right to vote advance freedom and democracy by studying its basic pretzels and taking risks to make it real. [applause] so i think the civil rights movement is about our past but it's also about our future. which has a number of implications for those of us who are not students. one of them is that we should be concerned when our schools are teaching only reading and math because history in america, the only country in the world founded on an idea, is how we learn what citizenship means. [applause] our citizenship to some degree is paralyzed by the age of
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gridlock. and i think that we are to some degree responsible for it ourselves. and i'm going to try to challenge you with a little bit of that, along with we normally get inspiration from this overwrites era, and it is there, but it's also sobering, the degree to which the comparisons between now and then leave us a little bit behind as far as applying those lessons towards the future. this little book, my compact book is dedicated to students of freedom and teachers of history. the reason that i did it and shed so much blood by eliminating 90% of what i'd written over 24 years, was because teachers over the years have complained to me that it's half right. my trilogy was half right. storytelling is what makes history accessible to students. they learn things through human
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stories, not he their abstract categories and argumentation and labels of analysis linked to date. they get involved with stories and, therefore, that's good. however, 900 pages of stories is a lot, even for a college teacher. let alone for high school teacher, and so they said tried to preserve the stories and give us something that is a little more compact introduction to this era, if you believe that it is so vital not only to our past but to our future, and that it is crucially misremembered. we in the united states have a terrible history of misremembering our history when we don't want to remember it. we can turn it upside down. i was born and grew up in atlanta, georgia. it was in my textbooks that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery, that the slaves were better off here than they been in africa, and that the people
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who were restoring white rule in the south were known as the redeemer's. that's not true. redeemer is a religious word for terrorists. so we have to be very careful because race and citizenship and freedom are tricky. we are in a tricky air a right now. i'm using this book to try to teach students now. we had an experiment last spring at the university of maryland. i live in baltimore. to teach a seminar on the basics of civil rights history and citizenship, to a seminar classroom in baltimore with online students from russia and the solomon islands and all around the world. we're going to do it again for credit. our goal is to cut the tuition cost for students by 90%, and to open up to the world, people who can, with some skin in the game
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and some prospects for credit, gain access to the mastery and the lessons of civil rights history for the world. there's a revolution coming in higher education. just like the revolution that has come in newspapers and that made detroit a shadow of itself, and that has affected the book industry itself. this new short book has something called an enhanced e-book edition that i can't read myself, my own book because i don't have an ipab. you can read along in the e-book for a fraction of the cost of the book and was a president kerry had an interview about vietnam and civil rights but before he was killed, you can click on and actually see the interview. not just the interview, the outtakes when he and walter cronkite stand up in the rocking chair answer constant about sailboats. enhanced e-books are amazing. there are revolutions coming and
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all kinds of aspects of american life in some respects they are thrilling but in other respects they are chilling. because none of us wants to be a part of the industry that gets made obsolete. and half of our politics are saying, that's what black people are for. are the ones who should be in the industry that's obsolete because they have been used to it for 200 years. blue collar works went out of work, army went out of work. all of the brunt of that fellow black people who have been behind. the great lesson of our future is to what degree we are willing to look to the inspiration and the discipline of american history, to form public policies and public trust together to help us have rules and public policy that will advance and help us address the very, very serious problems that we face the way they did in the civil rights era.
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when an invisible minority that was 10% of the population within the traditional tools of politics, no army, no newspapers, they were not in the paper, the newspapers wouldn't even put most of their social events. they wouldn't even refer to them by name. they had no. they had no police force. all they had was a willingness to study and sacrifice for the basic principles of american freedom to lift the rest of the country towards the professed meaning of its own value, and they did it. it's an amazing story and it's accessible to children today, in part, because it was children in that era who were leaders in it, who confronted problems that made adults mumble. and stare the problem in the knees rather than in the eyes. you have college students, and
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in 1963, in the freedom rides and then the sit-ins. at a time when we were so addled by the prospect, is such a foreign concept that the first sit-ins were dismissed as anti-rich. young people, particularly young black people can't be addressing serious problems that have befuddled the united states and make the president of the united states, at that time dwight eisenhower, sound addled. but they were not addled. they were confronting it. in 1963, when the rest of the country was saying essentially that this race problem of segregation in 17 states that takes basic freedoms away from a whole segment of our population is wrong, and somebody should do something about it, but not me, not now, and i can tell you that i myself growing up in atlanta, it had finally worn me down. i've been trying to avoid it my whole childhood and i said when i get really impossibly old, like 30 -- [laughter]
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i'm going to stick my toe in this race problem, and no sooner had i said that at the age of 16, i turned around and turned on the tv and there were little children in birmingham marching into dogs and fire hoses singing the same songs that i sang in sunday school, and not running from the dogs and fire hoses and not waiting until they were 30 and not waiting until that any of the bandages that i had growing up middle-class in atlanta. it was a stupefying to me that eventually it changes the direction of my life's interest against my will. where did that come from? it was their activity, this stupefying gambit by martin luther king when his whole movement was about to go down the tubes, was condemned by every political figure in the united states from george wallace and robert kennedy to malcolm x. to use small children in those demonstrations, as young as eight and six years old, by the thousands when they could only get, the conditions in the
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movement in birmingham were so intimidating to black adults that they could only get 10 or 12 with the greatest martin luther king "i have a dream" speech sermon in the church, they could only get 10 or 12 adults. they were terrified but they got 1000 kids to march on may 2, if they cut another 1000 to march on may 3. and it melted the emotional resistance to dealing with the fundamental issues of american freedom as presented by race, not only across the united states and not only in me as a 16 year old, but all around the world, which is one of the reasons that the civil rights movement is a greater inspiration outside the united states today than it is inside. they were singing we shall overcome when it took the berlin wall down. they were singing we shall overcome when nelson mandela came out of prison and said that the answer to apartheid is not armageddon. but a multiracial democracy at great risk and great effort to all of us.
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this inspiration is gone around the world and we have been to some degree trapped in it, and i'm going to give you two reasons that i think we are trapped in it. they all grow out of the book. they are not the kind of thing i try to teach young people in absorbing the stories and inspiration of this, but they are ideas that i think we should address today as citizens in the gridlock democracy. i mention them by the way, thank you for jeffrey brown, but i mentioned them to gwen ifill on the "newshour" the other night and got a real double take. i said that the greatest unexamined question in american politics today is to what degree the underpinnings of partisan gridlock our racial. what -- [inaudible] [applause] >> and as we came out of this,
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she kind of danced around the old and we came out and she said, do you mind if i ask president obama if i did interview him whether he thinks the underpinnings of gridlock that he is suffering with so much, threatening to shut down our government and everything else, right now our racial? i said of course not. she says, i'm going to throw you under the bus, and sure enough the very next day she got an interview with president obama. [laughter] and said this historian says this, and obama against all around it. [laughter] but it is dangers. it is delicate, but race throughout american history has been the gateway to the basement of freedom and to the blockage of freedom. it's the gateway where we go through. two ways of looking at it. 1963, 50 years ago segregation ruled. 17 states, george walsh -- had just been inaugurated governed with his famous speech,
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segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever. he talked about nothing but race. 50 years ago in september this month he flew to baltimore, my home city, and announced that he was going to run for president and never mentioned race. he never mentioned segregation again. he turned on a time when a march on washington and the birmingham demonstrations made it obvious that in the future, overt segregation and talking overtly about race was no longer going to be respectable. he switched his message directly. he said he was running only to restore local government against big government by pointing at big bureaucrats, tyrannical judges and tax, tax-and-spend legislative. he had never denigrated the race of any person or group of people in history, and people wanted to believe it. and that's the beginning of misremembering history. that's the beginning of the vocabulary of modern politics.
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if you don't believe that big government opposition today and the notion that what makes me say that what makes me sick and makes me free as not all the painstaking ties that we built up over two centuries of democracy for our economy and for our politics, but the pistol that i care in to starbucks, if you don't leave that's not driven -- [applause] -- by race, ask yourself why is it that big government is only a slogan and never analyzed. what part of big government? the big government and the pentagon? the big government and foreign policy? the big government in the homeland security agency that frisks view, but what if you get into an airplane? know, it's only the government that could conceivably put you in a position of common citizenship with somebody who make you fearful or makes you anxious. that's big government. that's where it comes from.
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[applause] that's what obamacare works only as a slogan, that mentions obama and, therefore, a racial signal, and obamacare any piece of legislation without anything about it and doesn't address the fact that if you got rid of it, the presumption is we would have a nirvana system. our medical system works miracles but it also is by far the most expensive one in the world, and we have convinced ourselves that it is a rational system to route every payment including for dental checkup through vast bureaucracies of profit making insurance companies. [applause] southern ocean that we are in prison and a system is a choice between obamacare and an unspecified nirvana that is not really nirvana is a measure of our gridlock, and it is a driven by irrational fears and
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apprehensions that are similar to the fear and apprehension that all of us face about things that confront us in the modern world. world. you and me in the book business, my book business is dissolving in many respects so we all have to adapt to that. now, lastly, and i want to take some questions because i'm trying to essentially say that our democracy is as simple as these wonderful stories of the eight year old girls marching into the dogs and fire hoses, and it's also basic and challenging as democracy itself. we are not dealing with it very well today. is easy to say that gridlock all belongs on the other side of people who are fearful and two are testing a big government and transmitting their fear and hostility on racial grounds to the government itself, which among other things is anti-patriotic. our whole government since the very beginning has been about what we can build. tea party was a purely destructive movement.
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it's great to go back to basics but it was about revolting against a foreign government that had allegiance to the king. the hard work began after that. what kind of government are we going to build? everybody from george washington to abraham lincoln the martin luther king is saying, we're going to build something together through government, of the people, by the people, for the people. that's what's patriotic. that's what they have in common. that's what i call the modern civil rights movement modern founders. they're doing just what they did. our site, the people who appreciate the movement, is complicit in our gridlock for two reasons. they're not easy to talk about. i want to throw them out because i think we need to get out of this, out of this notion that the only hope we have is for the other side to drop dead. [laughter] [applause]
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the people who appreciate the racial aspects of advancement in american history, historically, from the very beginning of our republic through the civil war, through the progressive era, through the civil rights era in and out today down to obama, the people who appreciate the racial aspects talk only about race. they don't enlarge it, they don't pay attention to the lesson the martin luther king and the civil rights movement, all this talk about the larger premise of judgment, of justice and use race as a doorway to talk about it. the people on the other hand, who showed up at the march the other day, and this was to me the most hopeful thing about the 50th anniversary march, you had representatives from all the collateral movements that benefit from the civil rights era, the senior citizen, a gay rights movement, the women's movement, the disabled movement,
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on and on, stood up and said i'm staying in because of what the civil rights movement did. that's half the formula. made race relations the doorway do things that benefit everyone. dr. king said famously in a line that is the first to be forgotten, that when the civil rights movement got rid of segregation in the south, some of the chief beneficiaries would be white southerners. because their whole system was imprisoned psychologically, economically and politically in a system of segregation that depended on trying to keep people degraded. it degraded everyone, and then when segregation went, what did you hear about? the sun belt the you never heard of the sun belt when it was a good. it was the hookworm bill. we were poor. mine there in atlanta said as soon as the civil rights bill passed not quite 50 years ago, the city of atlanta built a sports stadium on land it didn't
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own with money it didn't have for a king that hadn't located and lured the first professional sports king, the atlanta braves from milwaukee to atlanta. it opened up the whole world. every politician in the south who cuss as the civil rights movement stands on his shoulders here for its prosperity, for the hopes and dreams of their daughters who now can go to princeton and yale and even my university, the university of north carolina only admitted nursing students when i was there in the 1960s. we take all this for granted. we need to have an open-minded discussion where we are all more comfortable about talking, in talking about race, but we are not penalized in talking about race only. we are not careful that we're going to insult some spokesman for a different racial group that we are diminishing them by talking about things that they set in motion that liberated everyone. the larger justice.
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so let us all -- the reason that civil rights education is so valuable is because it's accessible to children. it's because it addresses issues of freedom that affect all of us. it makes race a gateway to the promise of democracy, and that when you recognize the deficiencies of democracy today in race, in our jails, in our poverty rates, in our school to jail, and our drug wars, it is not imprisoning you in the race issue and then hopelessness, but it is going through that that you realize the larger connections and possibilities that the civil rights movement once opened with less resources, let's hope facing more difficult problems when an audience like this in my lifetime would have everybody's pommes sweaty just for pure that a mixed audience would draw either the client or the police or would have
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somebody's father lose their business because the customers thought they were race mixers. that kind of terror is gone in every breath that we draw. our gratitude for the kind of freedom should never be taken for granted through this history. we not only regain the balance of what it means to be an american devoted to freedom, but we regain the tools, the habits, literacy, the cross-cultural genius at the heart of america to address the problems before us. thank you. [applause] >> thank you.
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thank you. that's very, very kind but i was trying to make a little schooling with inspiration, but i appreciate that anyway. i just don't want us to be complacent. this stuff is too serious. so if we're not thinking about what we are doing wrong, we are not -- as my old football coach said, if it's not hurting, it's not doing any good. we have time for questions and till they stop us, and i've race some typical ideas but the questions don't have to be on any of that. you can ask -- this is a vast subject to the first question the other day was plaintively come visit really to the martin luther king was only 5'6"? yes. the next question. >> i want to comment you on a gorgeous, eloquent speech, form of wisdom really. wants you to listen and be totally impressed. and i think the most ironic
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thing with your speech is that the people who can benefit the most common t who work about 300 yards from where you are speaking are not here to listen as we did, a beautiful speech. thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> just one quantum -- just one quick comment on the. the members of caucus didn't show up on the march on washington figures are the. there were only a couple. in 1963, what they did instead was they had a quorum call to spread upon the pages of the record the names of anybody who was not there, because they wanted to attack anybody who showed up at this march. never be convinced that the march on washington 50 years ago was a warm and fuzzy event. there were right troops stationed all around. they canceled elective surgery, and to me, the most -- and they
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eliminated -- they banned liquor sales for the first time since prohibition. they were so scared of this thing. but to me the real kicker is that major league baseball, which is played right through floods and world war ii and everything, a week before the march on washington postponed not one but two washington senators games. a day of the march and the day after for fear that we would still be cleaning up the result of armageddon. those are the unspoken signals of race. most of us who do with race deal with it 99% subliminally. before we deal with the concepts that we frame, it's not to say that framing concepts is not, and to do with it in adjusting and governing ourselves is our highest duty. but we are kidding ourselves when we think that we're in complete control over this thing and that all of us to some degree are not racialized. races is a difficult word because it means overtly organizing your whole life around a system.
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but racialized, we are all racialized and the question is what am going to get about how much of her minds, souls and inspirations we're going to apply to. >> i wrote a book a few years ago called why you talk so white, and it was about the questions i get asked by my peers because i learned to speak well, i guess. [laughter] spent speak why, that's all right. [laughter] when i was interviewed a couple years ago during the don imus debacle, i got asked, a comment was made about, you just explain some things to us on the radio in a way that made talking about race safe, for lack of a better word. so as i listen to you now and agree with a lot of what you say, what strikes me is we need some kind of language, we need
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to learn how to speak about race so that it is not threatening the either side, any site, all sides, whatever. how do we learn that language in a day of antagonistic internet comments? the moment summary says something, and the world we live in? >> very difficult, because people, when you try to raise the subject at all in a days media age, people are only listening for the first spit ball. when they get the first pitfall, the conversation is it because it's going to try to get a spit ball going back the other direction. that is our atrophied public discourse.
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>> every conversation should begin with the premise that talking about race makes us bigger, it enlarges the story. it does not pigeon hole the story. that's not to say that there are not some people who talk about race who only want to use it as a grievance to bang people over the head. but we need to displace those people by conversations that say this is the gateway, historically and every other way, the gateway to a larger freedom for everyone. there's no magic answers u but i
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think the first answer is to never, never take today's failure as the end. it's the beginning of the question, how do we get around it. thank you. yes, sir. [applause] >> thank you very, very much. you know, you are nothing but a -- you're like a ball of fire, man. [laughter] [applause] you're a ball of fire! i mean, sir, you inspire me. you really do. and i think more white people need to learn how to talk like you do. [laughter] [applause] because if they did, we'd open up this conversation. and and i'm on the faculty at the university of maryland, and we are in college park, and we're taking on this issue especially in the area of health and health disparities. we believe this is where jim crow was still hiding out. and i hope that one day you'll take this on to expose the tentacles of racism and discrimination that have permeated our society.
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my question is this: there's sometimes pain when we delve into the story. and what haunts me is some of the photos and the images of that period when we would see black men hanging, being lynched, but there would be a picnic, there would be a test value with -- a festival with children. who were those people? who were those children who are now adults? what fear do they have in going into that history? that's deep, man. >> uh-huh. >> how do we deal with that? that trauma that we have all experienced as a people, get through that trauma to get to the healing side? >> well, that's a tough, that's a tough question. but you open up one part -- i can't tell you how many people i interviewed in mississippi going back 30 years or more now, how
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many black folks said that they were raised being told in their household do not talk about emmett till. why? it's dangerous and, number two, it's embarrassing. it, the story is dangerous, it is painful, and it is revealing of our helplessness. so the notion of avoiding a racial discussion is not just a white issue because you're afraid you might offend somebody or display your ignorance or that or the of thing that you need to get over. the great model for that is robert kennedy who was as naive and silly about race as anybody, but be he kept banging away at it. he was existential. he would do something to somebody, and then he'd feel guilty about it, and he talked to them, and he'd ask why, and he grew doing it. that's what we need to have. the images of lynchings, they are very, very difficult issues for both races. but to me, they are, they are little emblems of how quickly
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people can, in the future, those people will adjust to those memories, and we remember about race what we want to remember. and you can, to the degree that you can turn it upside down. and that's what we really have to guard against in all of our conversations, to go through that pain and say there's something bigger and better on the other side, but it's part of the courage that it takes to be a democratic citizen in a country that says the people are the ones who are responsible for the government. if the government's screwing up, it's not just the people in the government, it's me. diane nash, diane nash is one of my favorite people from the civil rights era. some of you may know her. but she was a leader of the sit-ins, the freedom rides, everything. she was, her family was harassed by the fbi, and in one of my interviews with her i said, diane, i showed her some of these fbi documents about what they'd done, petty little
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things, and she says, oh, i don't bother with that, that was just hoover. i said, what do you mean? he said, yes, but i blame us for hoover. we left him in a position of arbitrary secret power for 50 years, and anybody who studies american government in the sixth grade should know you're going to get just what you got, an autocrat whose world was small and wanted to run things. i blame us. so here's diane nash who's black and cannot vote herself, but she's assuming responsibility for j. edgar hoover instead of a sense of victim hood. and so that is an amazing example to me of the kind of wisdom that these young people -- she was only 23 years old when she's doing all this stuff with j. edgar hoover. so there's a lot of wisdom here, and there are no easy answers, but it really does make our history just enthralling, i think. thank you. >> thank you. and keep on keeping on.
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[applause] >> yes, sir. >> so on the subject of this national gridlock, i was contemplating maybe we could ask lord dietrich to develop a party t-specific plague for one side or the other, i really don't care which. [laughter] but absent being able to do this, what do you think is the path forward on how to solve this stupid, crazy gridlock? >> you have got to apply all your heart, soul, mind and body to trying to detach some people on the other side from the irrationality that they're trapped in. the anti-big government side, it does seem to me, has pretty much reached a cul-de-sac because there's a larger and larger body of the people -- it appeals to fear, anxiety, but also pride in the sense of saying, well, if i didn't just have all these public obligations and people asking me to, you know, pay a small amount for good stamps, i'd with better off. i don't need any of our public
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conveyances, anything that we have. i'd be better off digging my own plumbing. and that appeals to people's pride, but it's not true. and we have to figure out ways to show people that if they had the same initiative, the same education, the same genius in sudan or in you uruguay, our chs clear, our roads -- the public space is a glorious example of our cooperation, but it's all invisible, therefore, can be taken for granted. and it takes people us pent bl -- susceptible to politicians who may with saying you'd be scared of all these other people and you'd be better off if you listened to me and strangled government in the bathtub. we have to figure out ways to peel off people, because some
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people are that way. very, very wealthy people are lobbying and spending money to, basically, have the government pay them. but they rely on great masses of people who are deluded by propaganda, and we have to figure out how to address that. yes, sir. >> yeah, i wanted to get back to the kids you were talking about. [applause] are we getting a generation of teachers of 8 or 9-year-olds who are going to be capable of doing what those kids did then? and particularly with reference to common core, in an effort to force feed competence in this generation coming up, are we losing think way of inculcating them in the history and the culture that they're going to need to -- [inaudible] >> less and less, and that is dangerous. to me, that's one of the scariest things, that we are de-emphasizing american history and citizenship in our core curriculum in the united states. you could turn it around and say if you're in my generation and
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you have benefited because i think that the breakthrough in birmingham in 1963 opened up doors for equal citizenship for our whole generation far beyond what they did, we're indebted to them. we could repay young people. young people did something for us. we need to do something for them by helping to restore that education and by really studying and not approaching young people on the basis of what we may have heard. some young people are far more liberated and natural in their views and our antiquated prejudices and they're free of them, but some of them are still getting trapped in them, and they're also not being educated. so we have to encourage the good part and try to rescue our education so that it makes the kind of citizenship example from 50 years ago more pertinent to today. thank you. >> have we got teachers to do
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it? [applause] >> have we got teachers to do it? we have some. our best teachers today, i think one of the saddest things -- i'm not an expert in education. i've just met enough teachers who were heroic to me. gosh, i met teachers in idaho, the gildalerman institute, let me to idaho, mormon idaho, who are teaching civil rights history at 10:00 on sunday night they're googling diane nash to try to find something to present to their teacher -- to their students the next day that would be accessible. they're heroic, but they're really undermanned. we, in many respects, we are slipping into a notion that we accept the idea that being a teacher is more or less like being a military draftee was in the 1950s. you can only do it for four or five years, and then you're going to be burned out. so they are heroic, but we do
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not as a whole society treat teaching and both the content and the professional core and life of it with the seriousness it deserves if it really governs our future in the information age. [applause] >> could i ask you to restate your question for the president? [applause] >> yeah. over the years dr. king has been repackaged in a lot of ways by corporations, you know, a mcdonald's placemat, a day of service. how do we go about reclaiming dr. king and making it clear this was one of the key progressive voices of his time? >> great question. did everybody hear that? dr. king has been repackaged by everybody, how do we go about reclaiming the genuine. first of all, i do believe that personal stories are the key to that. if you reduce somebody just to a concept or an idea or a label, then it can be be refuted with
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another label. and you can have ralph reid like he did the other day say that dr. king's whole career was about saying that it's only the content of your character and that it was a movement about families and not about politics and public change. when anybody who's studies martin luther king's career for five minutes knows that i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its greed delivered, you know, on the mall. he came to the mall to do that. this is about our public purpose. so to say that, you know, that he's, that he's an anti-government person too is preposterous. but that's what happens when we and they reduce everything to sound bites. the stories are key. you have to pick the right stories that people relate to. one of the reasons that i was obsessed to try to put down a storytelling record of this whole period is that storytelling things, things that
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are human are harder to refute. that's why we are all eternally grateful that in the depression that the roosevelt administration took those oral histories of slaves, the few remaining slaves who could talk from personal experience about what it was like. otherwise slavery was an idea. and it was as vulnerable to anybody else's idea, that they were well off and they were happy. but you had personal testimony, personal testimony matters, and what the rest of us need to do is to find a bit of personal story about martin luther king that illustrates the part of him and his public ministry and that you want to pass on and preserve. it's there, but we just need to do a better job of passing it along. to me, the greatest thing about martin luther king was that he could speak about religion and politics in every speech constantly and was never accused of mixing church and state, which is remarkable.
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and it's because he did it with such an amazing adroitness. he'd say you want equal votes? fine. they both lead to the same place, they both lead to justice, they go through race. and he's not trying to subject one to the other which is how you get in trouble with that. so, is and there are examples of that. so i think the best general notion about how you refute the tendency, it's a proven historical tendency to distort and even invert lessons from race to make them more compatible, is to preserve personal stories that have the truth in them. >> [inaudible] >> and that's all the time we have. i'm sorry. [applause] thank you. [cheers and applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> this event was part of the 2013 national book festival in washington d.c. for more information, visit loc.gov/book fest. >> coming up next, author, lawyer and radio personality mark levin. the former reagan administration official talked about the role of the federal government, recent supreme court decisions and the upcoming 2014 elections. the syndicated radio talk show host is the author of five nonfiction books including "rescuing sprite," "liberty and tyranny," and his 2013 release, "the liberty amendments." ants.

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